31 January 2013

Mozambique: Storms Cause Eight Deaths in Zambezia and Nampula

Maputo — Three days of heavy rain north of the Zambezi have caused the deaths of eight people, raising the death toll in the current rainy season to 44.

According to the Mozambican government’s Disaster Management Technical Council (CTGC), four of the latest deaths occurred in Zambezia province (three in Nicoadala district and one in Inhassunge) and four in Nampula.

Three of the deaths in Zambezia were associated with the collapse of houses built of flimsy material, and the fourth victim drowned. In Nampula, three children died when a house collapsed on top of them, and an adult was electrocuted.

In the Zambezia provincial capital, Quelimane, 1,579 families have seen their houses collapse in this week’s storms. The torrential rains (176 millimetres of rainfall on Monday alone) have flooded 21 of the city’s neighbourhoods.

The reports from Nampula indicate that 386 houses have been destroyed, affecting 1,933 people.

According to a report in the Maputo daily “Noticias”, multi-disciplinary teams are on the ground surveying the damage, and assisting the families made homeless.

In Nicoadala district, the Licuar River has burst its banks, and nearby houses have been engulfed by the rising waters. The district government has housed displaced families in two accommodation centres. A unit of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) was sent to Nicoadala on Wednesday to participate in search and rescue operations.

14,500 hectares of crops have been swamped by the flood. The director of the Nicoadala District Economic Activities Services, Nel Graca, said he thought that rice might resist the flood, but that fields planted with maize and cassava were probably lost.

Classes in Nicoadala schools have been interrupted. 11,000 pupils are no longer attending school because classrooms in 12 schools have been flooded.

The Zambezia Provincial Governor, Joaquim Verissimo, visited the Nicoadala accommodation centres, and urged the displaced families to build their main houses in safe areas. “You can have a house in the low-lying area, but the main house should always be on higher ground, so that we can better care for our children and our property”, he said.

The waters of the Licuar are still rising, and threaten to spill onto the country’s main north-south highway, creating serious problems for traffic to and from the north of the country.

In Nampula, the regional water board (ARA-Centro-Nordeste) has warned of the possibility of a flood on the largest river in the province, the Lurio, which would inundate parts of Erati and Memba districts.

The head of the technical department of the water board, Pascoal Mucache, said that the flow of the river was likely to reach 7,000 cubic metres per second, which would be enough to flood parts of the town of Namapa, the Erati district capital, and the Lurio administrative post in Memba.

The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) warns that further heavy rain, accompanied by strong winds, will hit northern Mozambique on Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, in the southern province of Gaza, attentions are concentrated on assisting flood victims, both those living in accommodation centres, and those in isolated areas in the north of the province, where the roads have been cut. Aircraft have been used to bring food into areas such as Mapai (in Chicualacuala district) and Javanhane (in Guija).

In Chokwe town, troops of UNAPROC (National Civil Protection Unit) have been undertaking a post-flood clean-up, while government officials calculate the damage done. The government is discouraging people displaced from Chokwe to return, fearing possible outbreaks of disease.

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